Friday, March 21, 2008

Flowers From The Storm Review

Book: Flowers From The Storm
Author: Laura Kinsale
Category: Historical
Grade: A+

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant-and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most casual attentions fascinated the sheltered the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives shocking news-the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely, and bind then together in need, desire... and love.

I've been sitting on this review, pondering my feelings about this story for a few days and still, I haven't been able to successfully put this story into a neat little review. The book- itself- is not easy, the subject matter is not one that you find on the pages of many romances.

Bare with me, this review is lengthy.

The hero, Christian Langland, Duke of Jervaulx is a rake, notorious for his lascivious, promiscuous behavior that finds its way into the scandal sheets. He is also a brilliant mathematician. Jervalux is working on a mathematical theory paper with fellow mathematician, John Timms. Timms is a Quaker so their partnership is an odd one, to say the least. The two have never met personally, only conversed through notes sent through John's daughter, the sheltered Archemedia (Maddy) Timms. Maddy acts as her fathers aid and eyes, as he is blind. She dutifully makes trips to the Duke's house with notes from her father only to be ushered into a breakfast alcove by a servant to wait while Jervaulx rudely takes hours to go over the notes before finally sending them back down to her.

Maddy finds herself turned off by Jervaulx's behavior and worldly ways, even if she is a little intrigued by the elusive Duke. Her confusion about him only grows upon their first meeting where Christian boldly flirts with her, a Quaker, in front of her father, no less.

Christian's past transgressions find him in a duel where he falls- stricken with an unknown affliction. Maddy soon finds out that Christian was killed and she is left trying to sort her feelings about it. She thought Christian a wicked, creaturely man, but she cries for him; the Duke she did not like.

Time passes and Maddy has been brought to Blythedale, a mental asylum run by her cousin Edward, to help him care for the patients in his wife's absence. Maddy is shown around the asylum and finally brought to a room that houses one of Blythedale's most violent patients. Maddy is shocked to find that Christian is that patient. He is nothing that she remembered him to be. He is wild, intense, in his eyes there is rage.

*We, the readers, realize that he suffered a stroke - But at that time his sudden loss of motor skills and some memory, partnered with his volatile behavior, painted him insane.

Christian suffers harsh treatment in the asylum at the hands of the attendants that leaves him broken inside. It is Maddy that Christian holds dear, as she is the only person to treat him kindly, even though he is not always kind to her. He clings to Maddy as his lifeline and in many ways becomes dependant on her.

Maddy believes that Christian is her opening- that God has placed her in this situation so that she can help him. She becomes assigned as his main caregiver and with her help Christian slowly shows a little progression. Maddy finds out that, at his family's insistence, Christian will go before a judge for a competency hearing that will determine whether or not he will be able to handle his estate again or loose his title and become forever confined to the asylum. She helps to ready him for the hearing and in doing so gets sucked into a world that goes against everything that she believes in.

At 533 pages, Flowers From The Storm is not a light read. The romance is not conventional. Christian is a Duke and is, by all intents and purposes, insane. Maddy is a Quaker, her religion speaks against everything that Christian is.

The internal struggle for both characters is very real, very palpable. I felt for them both: Maddy, in her struggle to stay in the light of her religion, while she hopelessly falls in love with Christian. Christian, in his dependence and love for Maddy. His struggle with the affliction that has turned him "buffle-headed." And then there are the external forces that they both must deal with. Maddy and her fellow Friends or Quakers- who do not agree with the direction she has taken. Christian and his brother-in-laws, who want to see him stripped of his title for their own nefarious purposes. His struggle to prove to the outside world that despite his condition, he is capable.

After reading the last line and closing the book I felt like I had been put through the wringer. I was emotionally exhausted but giddy at the same time. Happy that I came across this book and had the pleasure of reading it. The writing is compelling, the characters are vivid, the story is amazing. Grade A+


  1. This is one of my all time favorite romances. Such an emotional and beautiful read!

  2. I'm glad that you've enjoyed this book. :) Are you going to read The Shadow And The Star at some point? It's another good one from Kinsale. I also liked The Dream Hunter, which is slightly lighter than FFTS and TSATS.

  3. What a lovely summary of what this book is about. It almost shelved in the wrong genre isn't it? I mean it is a romance - but a more complex "issues" romance I've never read. One does feel put through the ringer once they finished it don't they? It's great book IMO and I agree with Jace, The Shadow and the Storm is another MUST read if you enjoyed this one.
    A lot of readers are impatient with Maddy and I was slightly at time too, still I found her hesitation and reservations completely believable.

  4. I agree, Katie. The story was beautiful.

    Jace, I have The Shadow and The Star in my TBR pile. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Kristie, I thought the same thing about the shelving. It can almost be shelved with the literature although it is a romance.

    I will admit to having times of frustration with Maddy, but I could not fault her because that was the way she was raised. Had she left her religion without question or regret then her character would have lost credibility.

    But I loved Christian! He was a great flawed hero.

  5. Ohhhh! I think I have this one in my TBR pile. I thought you were going to give it a bad grade, but now I'm intrigued :) Thanks Brie, you just bumped up this book for me :)

  6. No bad grade here, Nath. It was really good.

  7. Hi Brie, Great review! I will be adding this one to my list. Thanks!

  8. I can not lie.. I am having a very hard time getting into the book